Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Ps. 127:3-5)
I have always loved Psalm 127:3. My children have definitely been an undeserved reward from the LORD. But now that they are getting older, the next two verses are even more important to me. This heritage that the LORD has given me and my wife are also arrows to be used in the battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. One by one, our children are beginning to leave our quiver to be sent into flight in this war. Just today, I had the joy of seeing my oldest daughter get on a plane for a summer internship at Joni and Friends International Disability Ministry Center and my second oldest turning eighteen and preparing to join her sister at college in the fall. These arrows are starting to taking flight!
So let’s elaborate on this analogy further. When children are young, parents should be all about sharpening the arrowheads and straightening the arrow shaft. We need to grab hold of the mindset that these arrows will one day be engaged “full-time” in the spiritual war. Then, as our children get older, we must engage in “target practice,” allowing them to go out into the world and see some of the battle for themselves. Finally, when they are adults, it’s time to let them fly. If they are Christians, our children transform from being arrows in our quivers to soldiers in the army of the LORD!
There are several places along the way that this process of “spiritual archery” breaks down. If parents are not working on their arrows to make them ready for battle, then they will be less than effective. It’s not to hard to imagine what happens if an arrowhead is dull or the arrow’s shaft is bent. Spiritual archery also fails when parents refuse to take their arrows to the practice range for target practice. Their arrows are kept in the quiver too long with little opportunity to fly towards the target. Then, there are even parents who believe that their arrows are never to leave the quiver. Any thought of them getting mixed up in this messy, dangerous battle of life just brings fear and trepidation, with a tightening grip on the quiver. But the whole point of the blessing of children is to make them useful and even dangerous in the war against sin, Satan, and the world.
Hopefully, this extended analogy brings some good examples to your mind. Maybe it’s as convicting for you as it is for me. Let me close with three practical applications:
1. Think of the Christian education of your children as sharpening the arrowhead and straightening the arrow’s shaft. While the primary goal of teaching them God’s Word is to make them wise unto salvation, the secondary goal is to equip them for the battle ahead. To ignore this objective is to leave our children open for the devil’s target practice, as well as less than capable as spiritual warriors.
2. Consider some of the many effective “target practice” situations as your children grow older. I think of youth group as just one of those regular opportunities for my children. Now I know there are those who believe youth group is an illegitimate ministry of the church, either on principle or because of bad experiences. I’ve had parents tell me that they wouldn’t send their children to youth group because of the negative peer pressure and the overall foolish behavior it enables. Personally, when the youth ministry has solid Bible teaching (like ours does) and godly leadership (as ours does), it is a prime opportunity for “target practice” and even positive peer pressure. We spend many a night “debriefing” with our teens about what they are learning and the conversations they are having with both worldly and godly peers. This is our way of sending the arrow out, then bringing it back to the quiver for more sharpening.
3. Finally, Christian parents need to become more courageous in sending their adult children into this world in service to the LORD. I know too many Christian young people who have been discouraged by their parents when they felt called to the mission field or to full-time gospel ministry. Parents are often fearful, don’t want their children to move away, or just don’t want to see them suffer (financially or physically). Even though it’s sad to see them go, and hard to see them endure potential difficulty, find the joy in your calling as an archer in the Lord’s army!